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Thread: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

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    Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    Namaste,

    We worship God in many forms and with various forms. Are Shiva, Vishnu, BrahmA, Mother Goddess different from each other or are the same ? What does the Shruti say ? However, before I start writing this thread, I would request all to participate in this thread only for the sake of Truth and not for scoring points above others. Those who want to play "I win-you lose" game, are requested to open some other thread(s).


    Let's take some excerpts from Upanishads :

    MahAnArAyNa Upanishad

    This Upanishad tells us that "Narayana is all"

    I-6: Sages declare: That (Narayana) alone is right and That alone is true: That alone is the venerable Brahman contemplated by the wise. Acts of worship and social utility also are that Reality. That alone being the navel of the universe, sustains manifoldly the universe which arose in the past and which springs to existence at present.

    I-7: That alone is Fire: That is Air; That is Sun; That verily is Moon; That alone is shining Stars and Ambrosia. That is Food; That is Water and He is the Lord of creatures.

    XIII-4: Narayana is the Supreme Reality designated as Brahman. Narayana is the highest (Self). Narayana is the supreme Light (described in the Upanishads). Narayana is the infinite Self. [Narayana is the most excellent meditator and meditation.]


    Rudra is all

    XXIV-1: All this verily is Rudra. To Rudra who is such we offer our salutation. We salute again and again that Being, Rudra, who alone is the light and the Soul of creatures. The material universe the created beings and whatever there is manifoldly and profusely created in the past and in the present in the form of the world, all that is indeed this Rudra. Salutations be to Rudra who is such

    OM is all

    LXVIII-1: Om that is Brahman. Om that is Vayu. Om that is the finite self. Om that is the Supreme Truth. Om that is all. Om that is the multitude of citadels 9the bodies of creatures). Salutations to Him.

    The Supreme Being (in the heart of all beings) is all

    LXVIII-2: That Supreme Being moves inside the heart of created beings possessing manifold forms. O Supreme, Thou art the sacrifice, Thou art the expression Vasat, Thou art Indra, Thou art Rudra, Thou art Brahma, Thou art Prajapati, Thou art That, Thou art the water in the rivers and the ocean, Thou art the sun, Thou art flavour, Thou art ambrosia, Thou art the body of the Vedas, Thou art the threefold world and Thou art Om.


    Skanda Upanishad

    Vishnu and Shiva are same

    8-9. (I bow) to Shiva of the form of Vishnu and Vishnu who is Shiva; Vishnu is Shiva's heart and Shiva, Vishnu's. Just as Vishnu is full of Shiva, so is Shiva full of Vishnu. As I see no difference, I am well all my life.

    Mudgala Upanishad

    One God alone became many

    III The single God becoming many; unborn, is born as many. The Adhvaryus worship him as Agni. This as Yajus unites everything. The Samavedins worship as Saman. All is established in him. The serpents meditate on his as poison. The knowers of snake-lore as snake, gods as energy, men as wealth, Demons as Magic, the manes as sustenance. The knowers of the superhuman as superhuman. Gandharvas as beauty, Apsarases as perfume. He becomes whatever he is worshipped as; so, one should think 'I am the supreme being' and will become that (who knows this).


    Narayana Upanishad

    Narayana is all

    He is eternal. Narayana is Brahma. Narayana is Shiva. Narayana is Indra and Kaala (god of death). All directions are Narayana. All sides are Narayana. Inside and outside is Narayana. Narayana is what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Narayana is the only God who is blemish less, stain less, order less, end less and who cannot be described and when Narayana is there, there is no other second. He who knows this, becomes himself Lord Vishnu. Thus is read, the Upanishads of Yajur Veda.

    Brahma Upanishad

    One Purusha alone is all

    3. Now this Purusha has four seats, the navel, the heart, the throat, and the head. In these shines forth the Brahman with four aspects: the state of wakefulness, of dream, of dreamless sleep, and the fourth or transcendental state. In the wakeful state, He is Brahma; in the dreaming state, He is Vishnu; in dreamless sleep He is Rudra; and the fourth state is the Supreme Indestructible One; and He again is the Sun, the Vishnu, the Ishwara, He is the Purusha, He the Prana, He the Jive or the animate being, He the Fire, The Ishwara, and the Resplendent; (yea) that Brahman which is transcendent shines within all these! In Itself, It is devoid of mind, of ears, of hands and feet, of light. There neither are the worlds existing nor non-existing, neither are the Vedas or the Devas or the sacrifices existing nor non-existing, neither is the mother or father or daughter-in-law existing nor non-existing, neither is Chandala's son or Pulkasa's son existing nor non-existing, neither is the mendicant existing nor non-existing, so neither all the creatures or the ascetics; and thus only the One Highest Brahman shines there.

    Sarasvati Rahasya Upanishad

    Sarasvati is all

    7. Her nature the essence of Vedanta's sense,
    She the Supreme Sovereign,
    Manifest as name and form -
    May Sarasvati guard me!


    10. The only one extolled in Vedas four
    And their ancillaries; the non-dual
    Potency of Brahman - May She, divine
    Sarasvati, protect me!


    Sarasvati is the inner controller, Rudra etc.

    19. She as the inner controller
    Rules over all in the three worlds,
    Dwells as Rudra, the Sun and others -
    May that Sarasvati protect me!

    34. Vesting things of name and form
    In Her, meditate they on Her,
    Of whom the form is the One Brahman,
    May that Sarasvati protect me!


    Ekashara Upanishad

    Shiva is all

    1. Thou (Shiva) art the one Imperishable in the Imperishable, conjoint with Uma. As known by means of Susumna, here (on the empirical plane), the one firm (Principle art Thou). Thou art the ancient source of the world, the Lord of beings; Thou the Parjanya (the Principle of life-giving water), the Protector of the world.

    2. Thou art immanent in all; from (the view-point) of the wise, Thou, the Lord of the world art the all-knowing (Fire). In the beginning Thou art unborn, the first born, the sacrifice, too, art Thou. Thou alone the one omnipresent and ancient.

    3. Thou art the Principle of life; Thou the manifestation (the manifested world); Thou the source of the world; by a quarter hast Thou pervaded this world. Thou art the world's birth, the cause, the life supreme, and the child in the womb armed with the excellent bow and arrow.


    Kaivalya Upanishad

    Shiva is Brahman, He alone is Indra, BrahmA and Vishnu etc.

    6. (Who is) unthinkable, un-manifest, of endless forms, the good, the peaceful, Immortal, the origin of the worlds, without beginning, middle, and end, the only one, all-pervading, Consciousness, and Bliss, the formless and the wonderful.

    7. Meditating on the highest Lord, allied to Uma, powerful, three-eyed, blue-necked, and tranquil, the holy man reaches Him who is the source of all, the witness of all and is beyond darkness (i.e. Avidya).

    8. He is Brahma, He is Shiva, He is Indra, He is the Immutable, the Supreme, the Self-luminous, He alone is Vishnu, He is Prana, He is Time and Fire, He is the Moon.

    9. He alone is all that was, and all that will be, the Eternal; knowing Him, one transcends death; there is no other way to freedom.


    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  2. #2
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    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    I would say - "Thadekam"- ''The One" - from the Nasadiya Sukta.

    ''Alone, The One Breathed - Beyond that Indeed, Nothing whatever was!"

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    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    Namaste

    Yajurveda:

    Aum namo bhagavate rudraya vishnave mrityor me pahi (Shri Rudram Chamakam, Taittiriya Samhita 4.5, 4.7

    Eka eva rudra na dvitīyāya tasthur ( Yajurveda 1:8:6 d)

    Homage to him who haunteth the mountains, and to him who is in form of Çipivista.(visnu) (Yajurveda iv. 5.5 f )

    Homage to you(rudra) who is sparkling hearts of the gods ( Yajurveda iv. 5. 9 p )

    The Rudra in the fire, in the waters, in the plants, the Rudra that hath entered all beings, to that Rudra be homage ( Yajurveda v. 5. 9. i )

    Also, though not shruti:

    upadrastanumanta ca
    bharta bhokta mahesvarah
    paramatmeti capy ukto
    dehe 'smin purusah parah (Bhagavad Gita 13:23)

    "Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is Maheshvara, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as Paramatma,the Supreme soul of universe".

    Namaste
    Last edited by Shuddhasattva; 19 June 2012 at 05:01 AM.

  4. #4

    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    There is one Brahman worshipped in many names and forms, the meditation/worship of whom is the only direct means of attaining liberation.

    There are also many other devas who are subordinate to Brahman, are said to be created by Brahman, worship Brahman, and are supported by Brahman. I have posted pramaanas on another thread which I will reproduce briefly here. Note that these are not exhaustive, they are just a small number of the total references I have in my notes (which are themselves not exhaustive):

    Rig Veda 7.40.5: Rudra gets his strength by propitiating Vishnu
    Rig Veda 7.99.1-4: Vishnu is said to create Suurya and Agni
    Rig Veda 10.90.13: States that Brahman (here addressed as The Purusha) created Suurya, Agni, Indra, Vaayu, and Chandra
    Rig Veda 10.121.2: States that He (here addressed as Hiranyagarbha) is the "Giver of vital breath, of power and vigour, he whose commandments all the gods acknowledge."
    Rig Veda 10.190.3: States that Brahman (here addressed as Dhaatar) created Suurya and Chandra
    Aitareya Upanishad 1.2.1-4: States that He created the devas, provided them with nourishment, and ordered them into their respective abodes
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.1-18: Refers to the devas as Prajaapati's sons, and explains how they had to surpass the asuras by learning the process of yagna (they could not do it without).
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10: Says that only the devas "became that" (Brahman) by understanding knowing Brahman. But if the devas are already the all-knowing Brahman, then from whence the question of not understanding that?
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 2.1.20: States that all devas emanate from Brahman. Note that this mantra concludes the chapter in which Gargya speaks of meditating on Brahman within each of the devas.
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 3.6.1: Gaargi asks by what is the world of the devas pervaded. The ultimate answer is of course Brahman. But the point is, the devas, if Brahman, shouldn't be pervaded by something else.
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1-11: This is the famous antaryaami Braahmana in which it is stated that Brahman inhabits (among other things) the various devas presiding over moon, sky, the directions, the sun, etc, yet is not known by them.
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.16: States that the devas meditate on that Brahman as light/longevity.
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 5.5.1: States that the devas, along with men and asuras are Prajaapati's sons.
    Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 5.5.1: States that Brahman created Prajaapati, and Prajaapati created the devas.
    Chaandogya Upanishad 4.3.1-7: Describe He who swallowed the other four devas (agni, vAyu, ApaH, prAna), and then describes Him as the creator of all beings.
    Katha Upanishad 2.3.3: States that the devas (Agni, Vaayu, Indra, Suurya, and Mrtyu) carry out their respective functions out of fear of Him (Brahman).
    Kena Upanishad 2.1: States that knowledge of what the devas know is insufficient to know Brahman.
    Kena Upanishad 3.1-12: States that Brahman won victory for the devas, and explains how neither Indra, nor Agni, nor Vaayu could overcome the power of Brahman, and how Uma had to teach them about who Brahman is.
    Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.7: States that from Him emerged the devas and all other living entities.
    Prashna Upanishad 2.1-4: Explains how the various devas presiding over different parts of the body are all subordinate to Praana.

    These pramaanas, taken from mainstream texts accepted by all schools AFAIK as genuine shruti, clearly indicate difference between devas from Brahman. To this, we can add the following references from the Bhagavad-gita (also not exhaustive):

    gItA 3.10-11: Krishna says that He sent forth men and devas at the beginning of creation, and recommends yagna so that devas can supply various necessities of life.
    gItA 7.23: Krishna says that one result is obtained by worship of anya-devatas and another result is obtained by His worship
    gItA 9.23: Krishna says that those who worship other devas actually worship Him, albeit with improper understanding (avidhi-pUrvakam)
    gItA 11.15 Arjuna says he saw Brahma and Shiva within the vishvarUpa along with all other devas
    gItA 11.21 he says that some of the devas are fearful of Him while others are offering prayers to Him
    gItA 11.37 Krishna is referred to as "Lord of the devas." (deva-Isha)
    gItA 11.52 Krishna says that even the devas are ever wanting to behold this form of His

    No doubt, there are also references to Brahman being everything, Brahman being all that exists, etc. Both sets of references are valid and must be understood in a consistent fashion. It is not helpful to anyone's understanding to simply say that they contradict each other, and that we cannot understand them in a harmonious way because Brahman is inconceivable. Using this logic, one can easily cite "inconceivability" to accept any set of contradictory premises. i.e. God is a mass-murderer, and yet He is kind. How this is so is inconceivable. God is offended by killing of cows, and yet He has no problems with devotees eating hamburgers. How this is so is inconceivable. World is real, and yet world is not real. How this is so is inconceivable. Anyway, you get the idea.

    Understanding that the one Brahman has all the names of the devas helps to reconcile these two seemingly disparate sets of evidences. In such a situation, one has to understand from context which entity is being referred to by context - the anya-devata, or Brahman Himself. Also, understanding that Brahman is the indwelling Paramaatmaa of the jiivaatmas who take birth as devas, and is also indirectly worshipped by worship of those devas, reconciles these two sets of evidences. This is a cardinal teaching of bRhadAraNyaka upaniShad. Unfortunately, it is not acceptable to some for ideological reasons. A modern-day teaching among Neo-Hindu groups, most likely influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas, is that Hinduism is really monotheistic, and that all the "gods" we have are just one aspect of the same God. This appears to be an attempt to Semiticize the religion to make it more palatable to younger generations of Hindus who have been raised to believe that "polytheism" is somehow "bad" or superstitious.

    regards,
    Last edited by philosoraptor; 19 June 2012 at 11:44 AM.
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  5. #5

    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    Quote Originally Posted by devotee View Post

    Narayana Upanishad

    Narayana is all

    He is eternal. Narayana is Brahma. Narayana is Shiva. Narayana is Indra and Kaala (god of death). All directions are Narayana. All sides are Narayana. Inside and outside is Narayana. Narayana is what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Narayana is the only God who is blemish less, stain less, order less, end less and who cannot be described and when Narayana is there, there is no other second. He who knows this, becomes himself Lord Vishnu. Thus is read, the Upanishads of Yajur Veda.
    Pranams,

    I just wanted to point out something from the above translation. When it says, "Narayana is the only God who is blemish less, stain less, order less, end less " the implication is that there are other gods who are not blemishless, not stainless, not orderless, not endless, etc. If there is no other god, because all gods are the same, then it makes no sense to describe Narayana as the only God who is all these things, right?

    This is just another example of how we should be careful before rushing into unqualified monism or unqualified dualism as valid ways of explaining these statements.

    regards,
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  6. #6

    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    Namaste,

    If you go by logic there has to be only 1 God - Brahman which is limitless, all pervading without form etc etc. The forms of different devatas like Agni, Indra even Brahma are pervaded by Brahman just like our own bodies. But relative to our bodies the devata bodies are more eternal Brahma's life is very very long compared to us (like our life is very very long compared to that of insects) but it is still time bound. Humans on account of lot of punya gain the position of different devatas in time if they dont go for liberation. The Kena Upanishad talks about the devatas attaining liberation by understanding, knowing. In the same way we can attain liberation if we own up to Brahman (Aham Brahmasmi) through knowledge and Sadhana. All bodies (sentient and insentient) are just names and forms and are timebound and neither real or unreal. If you keep asking what? the underlying common for all is the eternal Sat ("isness") which alone is real. Equating I to that real is liberation.
    Even though Brahman is formless if saguna worship is preferred one can take the help of Vishnu, Siva, Devi, Ganesha etc etc. This does not mean that Brahman is limited by those forms.
    Last edited by Seeker123; 19 June 2012 at 01:56 PM. Reason: clarity

  7. #7

    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seeker123 View Post
    Namaste,

    If you go by logic there has to be only 1 God - Brahman which is limitless, all pervading without form etc etc. The forms of different devatas like Agni, Indra even Brahma are pervaded by Brahman just like our own bodies. But relative to our bodies the devata bodies are more eternal Brahma's life is very very long compared to us (like our life is very very long compared to that of insects) but it is still time bound. Humans on account of lot of punya gain the position of different devatas in time if they dont go for liberation. The Kena Upanishad talks about the devatas attaining liberation by understanding, knowing. In the same way we can attain liberation if we own up to Brahman (Aham Brahmasmi) through knowledge and Sadhana. All bodies (sentient and insentient) are just names and forms and are timebound and neither real or unreal. If you keep asking what? the underlying common for all is the eternal Sat ("isness") which alone is real. Equating I to that real is liberation.
    Even though Brahman is formless if saguna worship is preferred one can take the help of Vishnu, Siva, Devi, Ganesha etc etc. This does not mean that Brahman is limited by those forms.
    Pranams,

    For this analysis, you've made a number of assumptions that I'd like to call your attention to:
    1) Brahman is formless
    2) Form implies limitation.
    3) Our bodies made of matter are neither real nor unreal.
    4) Equating "I to that real" (by which I assume you mean Brahman) is the meaning of liberation

    First, you may wish to examine the shAstric basis for these assumptions.

    More to the point, you have acknowledged that devas are different from Brahman and gain liberation by understanding Him. In that case, how can it follow that one can worship such a deva and get liberation? Is it logical to suggest that worship of an entity who has not attained liberation, can help one attain liberation?

    Also, how do you reconcile that point of view with gItA 7.23 in which Sri Krishna describes one result for anya-devata worship and another for His worship?

    regards,
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    The adyātma rāmāyaṇa ( bālakanda section ) informs us, rāmāḥ is the Supreme Self, distinct from prakṛti. He is the one all-comprehending Being who is pure bliss itself and Spirit Supreme over all entities. He is unaffected by māyā, says the 20th śloka.

    rāmāḥ walks not, he sits not. He sorrows not, He desires not, He abandons not. There is no trace of any activity in Him... adyātma rāmāyaṇa ( bālakanda, 43rd śloka )

    data eka rāmā bhikāri sari duniyā- the giver is the one rāmāḥ, the world is a beggar.

    Yet we read from abhinavagupta's work parā-trīśikā vivaraṇa. It is a śloka where he gives praise to anuttara ( the Supreme, unsurpassable), he says: yatsattatparamārthohi paramārthastataḥ śivaḥ

    That which is Existence (sattā) is the highest (param) Reality, the Universe is of the nature of that Reality, therefore everything is śivaḥ

    praām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  9. #9
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    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namast

    kṛṣṇa yajur ved - taittirīya saṁhitā 1.8.6.iii
    eka eva rudro na dvitīiyāya

    rudra is the sole one, there is no second


    praām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Is there One God worshipped with many forms and names or are there many ?

    Namast,

    Lovely thread, Devotee, very wonderful and awe-inspiring to read.

    I add the concluding verse of the Bāṣkalamantra Upaniṣad (of the Rig Veda), spoken by Indra:
    "On all sides, I am the universal face,
    I am the Lord, the Witness, too.
    Omnipresent, compassionate to all, I am the One.
    That which exists, I am That."

    Indraneela
    ===
    Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
    Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

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